‘Make the easy pass... play the way you face… pass the ball!’ Whether it’s spectators, players or even some coaches, we’ve all heard the yells.
And they directly contradict a key aim of The England DNA: ‘stay on the ball’.
Retaining possession is central to our philosophy. It helps players to develop their technical ability, confidence and creativity. However, it can be a difficult skill to master – especially when players are young. The good news is that learning to 'hide the ball' can help.
What does this mean?
‘Hiding the ball’ is the term used to describe when a player creates a physical barrier between an opponent and the ball. To do this, they use their arms, hips and body – with the aim of retaining possession whilst under pressure.
If a player is able to keep the ball, they can then start to take advantage of the situation. For example, travelling into space or passing to a teammate who’s in a better position.
A skilled footballer can recognise when there’s a real purpose to staying on the ball, and understands how and when to hide it.
So, how can you help your team learn to hide the ball?
- Try not to shout ‘pass the ball’ all the time.
- Encourage players to stay on the ball – even just a little longer.
- Ensure your sessions include lots of ball contacts and 1v1s.
- Get your players used to contact from an opponent.
- Use careful practice design to create pressurised situations.
This approach to coaching should be your ‘default setting’, even if you’re tired, stressed or under pressure. It asks more of your players and will help to develop your team – so stick to it.
Next stepsAlready helping your team to 'hide the ball'? What's worked for you and what challenges have you faced?
To learn more about Foundation Phase DNA, click here.